Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Time with Buckshot

On Saturday, I had an extraordinarily good ride on Buckshot. The weather was nice, not too humid, sunny, with a nice breeze blowing through. Our warmup was good, with me directing Buckshot in new patterns, and him responding well. It felt so good to ride him. The riding class started and we did walking and trotting around the arena, then went through the woods on the trail.

At the other arena, we had a great time doing a pattern the instructor described. I spent some time rating the trot, from extended to working trot. We also worked on the canter, with me asking for about five strides at a time, and really focusing on it. Focusing hard on the aids for the canter departure, trying to include the elusive “softness” that would make our transitions light as a feather (not quite achieved yet). And focusing on steering the canter better. I changed up my reins, going to one handed reins, which Buckshot responded well to. In all, it felt like a wonderful ride, with Buckshot listening and responding and trying, and me trying hard on areas that need improvement. We just felt in synch. Not perfect, but in synch. A wonderful feeling. The kind you get just occasionally, but which reinforces how there is nothing better in the world than riding your horse.

On Sunday, we planned to go to our reining clinic. However, the BO was unexpectedly ill, so I went with the BOH. The reining trainer made guidemarks in the arena sand, with his golf cart, driving it around the arena so that the wheels left impressions, like road marks, to guide us in the pattern. So we worked hard on loping straight lines, staying inside the narrow tire marks, and doing rollbacks that were nice, tight, narrow turn arounds. Buckshot and I did pretty well, doing both trot and canter.

Then the trainer gave us a new tip, one of those weird things you don’t think you can do, but that the trainer knows the horse can do if the riders will just give it a try. He had us ride down the center line with our hands, and reins, stretched out to the side (a little wider than shoulder width). At the halfway mark, we had to put both reins in one hand, like neck reining. This made us somehow ride straighter lines although I’m not sure why. One rider suggested that with our hands out to the side, we were steering better with our legs and bodies. That’s possible. It’s also possible that it makes us think differently, and leave the steering more up to the horse. Either way, it was a surprising exercise and many of us said we have to practice that more at home.

That is one of the best benefits of having a trainer – they often suggest doing something unusual, that shows us what we are doing wrong, or how to trust the horse more, or how to try it differently with our horse. Something we would never think of on our own. This trainer has done this sort of thing a lot. I really have learned a lot from him.

Changing topics, I want to try and change Buckshot’s pro- and prebiotic supplement since the price of Fastrack has increased significantly. I have researched and purchased two others – one is called Forco Horse Supplement, from a horse center in Colorado. The other is from Valley Vet, called Command FT Probiotic. I’ve compared the ingredients, and wow is that a challenge. They have many of the same ingredients but it’s impossible to compare the exact quantity of the ingredients because they use different units of measure and different comparisons. They smell very similar to each other, and to Fastrack. The texture feels the same. I hope they are palatable to Buckshot. So we’ll see how they work.

Ah, the world of supplements. To me, it is a vast, confusing, impenetrable world of almost magical products (if you buy the marketing hype). Sometimes I don’t know how anyone ever chooses one! But I am optimistic that one of these will work for Buckshot as well as Fastrack, and maybe even better. I’ll let you know the results! Hope you had a wonderful weekend with your special horse!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Healing Time with Buckshot

Going to the barn this past Sunday was very healing for me, after my sister’s death last week. I really appreciated spending time with Buckshot, and keeping my mind occupied with barn things and Buckshot things. On Sunday we had a good ride. We warmed up in the arena with walking, and then headed up the road to the reining arena. We did trotting and cantering up there. At first the canter wasn’t very good- not steered very well. So I changed up and decided to just canter for five strides – five good strides – and then go to the trot. That helped a lot. Probably I wasn’t as focused as normal and didn’t expect and ask for good cantering. So the five stride exercise did help.

On the plus side, the weekend before last, we did a wicked pattern filled with different sized circles, and we did it at the trot and canter and did well! I asked Buckshot to canter the large circles and he did! We trotted on the smaller circles. We hit every part of the pattern. It was really nice to see us do that.

On another topic, it is time for me to place my normal, every-six-months order for Fastrack (a pro- and prebiotic digestion supplement), and when I started to place my order, I was shocked! The price of one bucket had gone from $44 to $70, in six months! The accountant in me kicked in and protests such a large price increase. I thought I’ll just have to find a cheaper alternative. I talked to the BO and we reviewed why I chose Fastrack two years ago: the vet recommended it because Buckshot was having a lot of diarrhea. We had tried ProBios without success. Another boarder at the barn at the time had heard good things about Fastrack as well. And it did help Buckshot. And so, since then, I have used it. Buckshot, being an older horse, has occasional soft stools, and occasional semi-hard stools, but much less diarrhea. He has a good appetite, keeps his weight on, has a good attitude about riding and in general has been in good health. So I do think the Fastrack is good for him. But at $70 a bucket! That’s a hard pill for me to swallow.

I called the vet and told him about the price increase, and asked him about trying other similar supplements. He said that I could do that, and to give an alternative supplement a week or so to see if it worked. He also said that often you get what you pay for. And that Fastrack had been around a long time, and had been developed for the aging horse, and that it had worked for Buckshot. So, his advice was mixed. And I understand that. I hate to think I’m overpaying for a probiotic supplement, if a cheaper one would work. But if this one does well for Buckshot, I’m not sure I want to experiment with others on him. So I’ll keep thinking about it, and talk to the BO some more, and decide soon. I have several weeks to decide because we still have a good current supply of Fastrack.

Buckshot also has deep clefts in his front hooves, that I am watching, smelling and spraying with thrush medicine. Someone at the barn recommended a colloidal silver solution for thrush, but I’m not sure about that. The farrier recommended regular thrush medication and I tend to trust his judgment on hoof issues. Have you ever used the colloidal silver products? What is your opinion of them? Hope you had a good weekend! I can’t wait to go back and see Buckshot again

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sadness and my short absence

I just want to let you know that I haven't been able to write my normal weekly post this week. Unfortunately, one of my sisters died on Monday, of a heart attack, and I have been dealing with this. It's been very sad; Diane was not that old, and really, any loss like this is terribly hard. I look forward to going to see Buckshot tomorrow- I really, really need to hug him.

Most likely I'll post again next week. Take care.